Franklin College assistant, 68, still not ready to wrap up career

<strong>O</strong>ccasionally, the thought crosses his mind. Usually at the end of a football season.

But then clarity arrives, and Dave Marendt realizes he has no desire to retire from coaching.

Not even after 42 years, including the past 17 as a position coach at Franklin College

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“At different times I’ve thought maybe I’m at a point where I’ll retire,” Marendt said. “But then I think, ‘I’m not stepping away from it. Not right now.’

“I like it too much.”

That’s good news for the Grizzlies, who treasure Marendt — the longest-serving member of the staff — for a host of reasons. His knowledge of the game is one. Coaching skill is another.

But the connection he makes with players might be the most important of all.

“It’s always good to have some wisdom on the staff, people you can bounce ideas off, because he’s seen so much already,” Grizzlies head coach Mike Leonard said. “But even more than that is watching the relationships that he makes with players out on the field, in unique ways that is so positive.

“You mention Dave Marendt’s name, and it just brings a smile to everyone’s face.”

A former varsity head coach at Lebanon, Mount Vernon (Fortville), North Atlanta (Georgia) and Edinburgh high schools, Marendt coaches defensive backs for the Grizzlies. He joined the staff in 1999, four years before Leonard became head coach, and has been a fixture ever since.

At various times, Marendt has coached offensive linemen, running backs and receivers, as well as defensive backs. His position knowledge isn’t surprising in light of the fact he won a combined 112 games during his high school coaching career, which began in 1974 at Lebanon.

More than 40 years later, Marendt’s enthusiasm for teaching players hasn’t waned.

“Just seeing young people develop as athletes, at the college level, is really awesome,” Marendt said. “They’re very intelligent, sharp people.

“For example, my first year at Franklin, one our players turned out to be the mayor of Franklin.”

That would be incumbent Joe McGuinness, who played offensive tackle for the Grizzlies before entering politics.

“Being around young people, it’s a great feeling, and it keeps you young,” said Marendt, 68. “At least I’m thinking I’m young.”

Besides his knowledge of the game and teaching skills, players appreciate Marendt for his calming, assuring presence and for, well, being a player’s coach.

“He’s exactly what we need,” said Jackson Shafer, a senior safety. “When you have one coach that may be really hard on you, coach Marendt is that guy who will step aside and calm you down and make sure you’re good and make sure you understand everything.

“He’ a great guy. He’s a great coach to just talk with. You ask anyone on my team, or any team that he’s probably coached in the past, would agree with that.”

Marendt, who in 1993 led Edinburgh to its most recent winning season, hasn’t missed a kickoff, either as a head coach or assistant, since his career began.

But that streak will end Sept. 17. The eldest of his two daughters, Audi, is getting married that day.

So he’ll miss the Grizzlies’ Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener at Defiance.

“(Leonard) will get an invitation,” Marendt said. “We just know he’s not going to be there.”

Marendt will be back on the sidelines the following Saturday for the conference home-opener against Bluffton. He has no plans to miss another game.

Not this season, nor the foreseeable future.

“This college is just tremendous,” said Marendt, who retired three years ago from his teaching job at Edinburgh. “Everybody that you talk to and work with are just positive, upbeat people. Starting with our coaching staff, just great guys, good teachers, just awesome people to be around.

“You love the game, but I think connections with people is just exciting. It’s just so rewarding.”

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Name: Dave Marendt

Occupation: Assistant football coach, Franklin College; retired teacher, Edinburgh Community High School.

Age: 68

Residence: Greenwood

Previous coaching experience: Has been a head varsity coach at Lebanon, Mount Vernon (Fortville), North Atlanta (Georgia) and Edinburgh high schools; spent one season as an assistant coach at Zionsville High School

Personal: Is married to Deb Marendt; couple has two adult children, Audi Marendt and Ali Marendt